July's Best New Music

  • Comments: ↓ 17 user comments
  • Publish Date: July 29, 2010

Our monthly roundup looks at the best albums released over the past month. For reviews of these and many more albums, visit Metacritic Music.

The best albums released this month

July may have been a relatively slow month for music releases (with most major summer albums arriving in May or June), but that doesn't mean the month was devoid of quality albums. Below, we look at the past month's best-reviewed releases. For each album below, we list the percentages of "great" critic reviews (with an individual critic score above 80), "good" critic reviews (61-80), "mixed" reviews (40-60), and "bad" reviews (below 40).

Note that all song download links go to Hype Machine, where you can find the indicated MP3s on a variety of music blogs.

Big Boi: Sir Lucious Left Foot: The Son Of Chico Dusty (Def Jam)

% Great % Good % Mixed % Bad Metascore Users  

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Shutterbugg

70% 30% 0% 0% 90 9.4

This creative solo outing from half of the acclaimed rap duo OutKast is a strong contender for hip hop album of the year. Guests include Gucci Mane, T.I., and Janelle Monae (whose own acclaimed 2010 album features an appearance by Big Boi).

What the critics liked: The disc boasts strong production and writing, and it's as intriguingly unconventional and varied as anything released by OutKast, simultaneously working well as a complete front-to-back listen (even for people not normally fans of rap) and as club or party music. It's also superior to most other recent rap releases, while managing to be an improvement over the well-received Speakerboxxx (in effect, Big Boi's previous solo album).

What they didn't: Critics found few things wrong with the disc, though Slant thought that he could have broadened his lyrical focus away from himself a bit.

Also by this artist:
Stankonia 2000 95 8.5   (OutKast)
Speakerboxxx/The Love Below 2003 91 9.1   (OutKast)
Idlewild 2006 72 8.0   (OutKast)

Tom Jones: Praise and Blame (Mercury Nashville)

% Great % Good % Mixed % Bad Metascore Users  

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Did Trouble Me

36% 45% 18% 0% 83 8.5

Let's face it: It is unusual to find the 70-year-old Welsh crooner on our Best New Music list, but here he is with an album of stripped-down gospel covers produced by Ethan Johns.

What the critics liked: There are lots of comparisons to Johnny Cash's adventurous later albums produced by Rick Rubin. The songs are filled with emotion, and Jones comes across as a true artist with a still formidable voice.

What they didn't: Some critics missed the less serious, more fun Jones, while others questioned the song selection (especially compared to Cash's more ambitious choices) and the too-somber production.

Also by this artist:
24 Hours 2008 62 8.1    

I Am Kloot: Sky at Night (Shepherd Moon/EMI)

% Great % Good % Mixed % Bad Metascore Users  

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13% 75% 13% 0% 83 n/a

The under-the-radar Manchester trio fronted by John Bramwell returns with a fifth album, produced by Elbow's Guy Garvey and Craig Potter.

What the critics liked: It's one of their strongest collections of songs, filled with bittersweet tales of regret and heartache set to melodic, warm, and elegant music.

What they didn't: Clash Music feels that the new disc shows little development compared to previous efforts.

Also by this artist:
Gods and Monsters 2005 68 6.3    

The Books: The Way Out (Temporary Residence)

% Great % Good % Mixed % Bad Metascore Users  

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Beautiful People
, A Cold Freezin' Night

23% 69% 8% 0% 82 8.1

The first album in five years for the collage artists combines live instrumentation and singing with samples culled from over 4,000 discarded tapes found in thrift shops and similar places.

What the critics liked: The disc is an inventive, enjoyable listening experience with a broad emotional range and wealth of ideas, and knowledge of how it was created is not necessary to appreciate the album.

What they didn't: Several critics compared the new album unfavorably to previous Books discs, and some of the tracks are a little too jokey and/or insubstantial.

Also by this artist:
The Lemon of Pink 2003 86 9.0    
Lost and Safe 2005 84 9.0    

Rick Ross: Teflon Don (Def Jam)

% Great % Good % Mixed % Bad Metascore Users  

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22% 67% 11% 0% 80 7.1

Perhaps the strongest record yet for the Miami rapper, this fourth album includes contributions from a star-studded roster of MCs and singers, including Jay-Z, Kanye West, Cee-Lo, John Legend, Drake, and Ne-Yo.

What the critics liked: It sounds terrific, thanks to strong production from the likes of J.U.S.T.I.C.E. League and No I.D. Multiple critics compared Teflon Don to an epic summer movie blockbuster, with The A.V. Club adding that it's a "perfect summer party album."

What they didn't: The flashy, extravagant album offers more style than substance, and Ross' lyrics sometimes let him down.

Also by this artist:
Deeper Than Rap 2009 73 7.6    
Trilla 2008 60 7.6    

Max Richter: Infra (Fat Cat)

% Great % Good % Mixed % Bad Metascore Users  

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Infra 3

xx% xx% 0% 0% 79 8.6

Much of this instrumental fifth album for the German-born composer and producer (who has collaborated with electronica artists such as the Future Sound of London and Roni Size) originally served as the score to a ballet based on T.S. Eliot's The Waste Land.

What the critics liked: Many reviewers were amazed at Richter's ability to evoke strong emotions from such a restrained and subdued musical palette, and the album is highly accessible and listenable despite its experimental nature and original purpose.

What they didn't: Some critics found it overly familiar and not interesting enough, though they were in the minority.

Jesca Hoop: Hunting My Dress (Vanguard)

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Four Dreams
, Feast of the Heart

0% 100% 0% 0% 78 8.3

The California-born folk singer-songwriter (a one-time nanny to Tom Waits' children) recorded this second album after moving to England. This month's U.S. release adds five tracks to the original album released in the UK late last year.

What the critics liked: It's an eclectic, highly rhythmic, modern, and pleasantly unpredictable version of folk, reminiscent at times of Bat for Lashes, PJ Harvey, Kate Bush, or even Waits himself.

What they didn't: Pitchfork, while admiring her charisma and talent, finds the album a bit too willfully esoteric, while Under the Radar notes the lack of a single standout track.

Best Coast: Crazy for You (Mexican Summer)

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Boyfriend

31% 44% 19% 6% 78 n/a

Crazy for You is the lo-fi but summery debut LP for the month's most buzz-worthy indie band, a Los Angeles-based duo (now trio) led by Bethany Cosentino.

What the critics liked: The breezy, reverb-heavy, wall-of-sound-style songs create an excellent soundtrack to summer, the sadness and longing in the lyrics add some depth, and the album is superior to recent efforts from similar groups like Vivian Girls.

What they didn't: Dusted dismissed the album as banal and pointless, while other reviewers found it a little too simple and one-dimensional, and lyrically uninteresting.

Menomena: Mines (Barsuk)

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Five Little Rooms
, Taos

22% 56% 22% 0% 78 9.0

The third album (not counting a brief instrumental disc) from the quirky Portland, Ore. indie rockers continues their unconventional approach to songwriting, instrumentation, and structure while toning down their hyperactivity a bit.

What the critics liked: The production is especially strong; it could be their best-sounding record yet. The album is cohesive and more emotionally gripping than past efforts.

What they didn't: Some critics felt that the album was lacking the hooks and consistently strong tracks present on Friend and Foe, while others weren't always fond of Menomena's new lower-key approach.

Also by this artist:
I Am the Fun Blame Monster 2003 82 9.0    
Friend and Foe 2007 78 8.6    

Kelis: Flesh Tone (A&M)

% Great % Good % Mixed % Bad Metascore Users  

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4th of July (Fireworks)
, Acapella

13% 60% 27% 0% 77 8.8

The pop artist's fifth album offers a dancefloor-ready mix of upbeat, electro-heavy tracks like lead single "Acapella."

What the critics liked: Though it is unlike her previous releases, the club-friendly sound of Flesh Tone won over many critics, who admired its ability to sample a wide range of dance music styles while still retaining Kelis' personality and vision.

What they didn't: Several reviewers complained that the album sounds dated -- or, at least, too mainstream and unoriginal -- while it's also a bit on the short side.

Also by this artist:
Tasty 2003 80 9.1    
Kelis Was Here 2006 70 8.6    

A Few More Well-Reviewed July Albums
Album Label Metascore
Admiral Fell Promises by Sun Kil MoonCaldo Verde76
::Disco2 by HEALTHLovepump United76
Intriguer by Crowded HouseFantasy75
Dark Night Of The Soul by Danger Mouse And SparklehorseCapitol74
Serotonin by Mystery JetsRough Trade73
Archive 2003-2006 by Department Of EaglesAmerican Dust73
Avoid these:
United Nations of Sound by RPA & the United Nations of SoundEmi UK/Zoom37
Korn III: Remember Who You Are by Korn Roadrunner 59

The Metascore is a weighted average of scores from top professional critics, on a scale from 0 (bad) to 100 (good). User scores represent an average of scores assigned by Metacritic.com site visitors on a scale from 0 (bad) to 10 (good). All scores are from July 29, 2010.

What are you listening to?

What new albums or songs are in heavy rotation on your MP3 player? Let us know in the comments section below.

We're sorry, but comments are closed for this article.

Comments (17)

  • Tyler R  

    caribou's swim and panda bear's new single still kicking strong, as is the new arcade fire album... can't wait for September...

  • Aladdin Sane  

    Kloot is wonderful. Listen to it.

  • Jake R.  

    Yeah, the Left Foot is mighty fine.

  • steve  

    janelle monae was transcendent, but I would give her the same advise I'd give Big Boi; if you have 12 killer tracks, don't worry about throwing anything else atop it.

  • steve  

    jesus 2010....avvett bros., lcd, black keys...nothing i was looking forward to had anything but one to two tracks I loved. big boi is untouchable right now, although his album could have shaved a track or two.

  • Ireland  

    Uhh... Avenged Sevenfold - Nightmare? Fantastic album.

  • Pedro  

    I think so Sean, 'cause there were some pretty good releases... But yeah, not this month.

  • Niko  

    what aout nightmare by avenged sevenfold

  • Sean  

    2010 is such a disappointing year so far... am I the only one that thinks so?

  • Richard  

    "Libraries" by The Love Language, check it out, better than everything listed especially "Heart to Tell"

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